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The Earth is Flat Award

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web posted September 18, 2000

Given that Canada was responsible for the creation of the very first United Nations peacekeeping force -- in 1956, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson designated certain battalions of the Canadian army to be used as a U.N. peacekeeping force, a practice that was soon adopted by other nations -- it shouldn't be a surprise that my government continues to be a big fan of them. It's one thing to be in favour of benign sounding "peace keepers" and another entirely when you decide a nation's sovereignity no longer matters.

During a speech to the U.N. General Assembley on September 14, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy criticized the organization for letting itself be driven by "rigid notions of national sovereignty and narrow conception of national interest."

"And action by the U.N. remains hampered by inflexible institutional structures that have become increasingly inward-looking, driven by their own interests rather than by those of the ones they were designed to serve."

That same day Axworthy announced the creation of an International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), essentially a group which will argue that "humanitarian action" similar to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia should be in mandate of the U.N.

Axworthy and the ICISS co-chairs he appointed, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, a special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general, agreed a country's sovereignty is a sacrosanct issue in international law but to do nothing while civilians are massacred would be unacceptable.

The ICISS' report won't be out for another year but allow me to tell you now what it will say. The report will urge the U.N. to accept the notion of intervention as part of the challenge of providing human security. In plainer terms, the U.N. will be told that it should use force when it believes it has to. That is a marked change from today's policy that sees peacekeepers installed between warring groups or nations after both sides have agreed to it. It will be a new era for the U.N. which will now see it apply its laws to sovereign nations and use military force when it feels it is justified.

You do know what that sounds like right? No, I guess I'm just being paranoid.

web posted September 4, 2000

"We need more tests against more challenging targets."

With those words, U.S. President Bill Clinton handed off responsibility for deciding whether to begin constructing a missile defence system to the next person in charge, Al Gore or George W. Bush. The system's first stage, which was supposed to have gone online in 2005, is now likely delayed until 2006 or 2007.

It shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone that when it comes down to real issues, such as military preparedness, Bill Clinton is unable to make a decision that doesn't translate into higher poll numbers. Since it doesn't earn the same headlines as engaging in a little class warfare, let's say vetoing the Estates Tax Repeal passed by the Republican Congress, Clinton isn't interested.

The fact of the matter is that America needs a missile defence system and there is no reason not to begin working on one. The Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with the Soviet Union was just that, a treaty signed with the Soviet Union, a nation which no longer exists. It is a dead treaty.

The world is becoming a much more dangerous place then we could have imagined just ten years ago. The euphoria over the demise of the Iron Curtain has given way to the realization that we may have never been safer when the Soviet Union and its allies were our only real threat. Today, the West faces a myriad of threats from nations who don't play the game the way cold warriors are used to. They don't look at things as a grand chess match played by spies and assassins, they genuinely despise us and consider our way of life to be an anathema to them.

Terrorism, which is still a rarity in North America, may already be yesterday's news. As an example, the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 caused $500 million in damage, killed six and injured another 1 000. The result? America is stronger today. So, however, are its enemies. Foreign powers determined to do harm to America won't be content with simple bombs that only send messages. As ballistic missile technology proliferates across the world, thanks to nations like China which sell to anyone, the number of hostile nations willing to launch first will only grow.

Bill Clinton knows that and by moving forward he could have cut down the envelope of time that could see a rogue nation pull the literal trigger and send more than a message to Americans. He chose, however, to play politics and delay that decision. Hopefully Americans won't wake up one day -- if they wake up at all -- to find out it was the worst decision he ever made.

web posted August 28, 2000

It's hypocrisy that ensures your editor in chief will likely never join another political party again. After I left Canada's Liberal Party, I flirted briefly with Ontario's wing of the Progressive Conservative Party, one much more conservative and pro-free market than its federal counterpart. Like all good things, however, it had to end. After one too many things I didn't agree with, such as actions which ran counter to their stated goal of reducing government, I left.

It happened again recently...the hypocrisy part that is. Ontario Premier Mike Harris, a man I still respect, announced on August 25, that the right to hunt would be enshrined in Ontario law this fall.

Harris said hunting and fishing are a part of the province's heritage and deserve recognition as such.

"There are some who believe that because they don't like hunting that they have the right to say nobody can hunt," Harris told reporters.

"We are making a statement that our heritage of hunting is a good heritage. It's something that's important, it plays an important role in conservation and it's something that's not negotiable."

Well, not so fast Mike. In politics, everything is negotiable and he proved that admirably last year. In January 1999, the Harris government ended the spring bear hunt, one of two times in a year that it was legal to hunt bears. The hunt was canceled by Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen because of concerns over orphaned cubs when mother bears were accidentally shot and for conservation reasons.

The problem? Well, Ontario has between 75 000 to 100 000 black bears -- the most in North America -- and no report based in science has been able to even hint that the hunt took too many bears, that an excessive amount of orphans resulted, or that there is a shortage of the animal. In fact, the move to ban the bear hunt was purely political and came after a radical environmental group distributed graphic videos to urban residents, the type of do-gooder whose idea of a trek in the bush is a drive to their $500 000 camp.

Oh yeah, Harris' comments last week came after he a made a speech. The audience? Several hundred Canadian and American hunters in Ottawa for a conference on hunting. Smell that hypocrisy...

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted September 25, 2000

I hate watching the Olympics. It used to be about amateur athletes striving to be the best. Today, it's a parade of steroid boosted, professional athletes competing for future endorsement contracts. Every one in a while, however, someone comes along that revives my faith in what the Olympics Games are really about. This year it is Eric Moussambani.

Chances are, you've never heard of Moussambani. He is a 22-year old swimmer from Equitorial Guinea, located on the west coast of Africa. On September 19, Moussambani competed in a 100-metre freestyle heat but failed to qualify for the final. That's not amazing. What is amazing is the fact that he finished his swim and earned the applause of the crowd.

See, Moussambani finished his 100-metre freestyle swim with a time of 1 minute, 52.72 seconds. That time was so poor that it was more than a minute slower than the qualifiers for the 100-metre final and 50 seconds slower than the next slowest man in the field. To be charitable, Moussambani is not much of a swimmer.

Moussambani: Swimming by himself, but he wasn't alone
Moussambani: Swimming by himself, but he wasn't alone

Here's the next amazing fact. Moussambani's 100-metre swim on September 19 was the first time in his life he ever swam that length. Moussambani also only started swimming in January in a 20-metre pool that was one kilometre away from his house. After the two other swimmers in Moussambani's heat were disqualified, he said he thought about quitting himself rather than swim solo in front of the big crowd, the biggest crowd he had ever seen in his life. But he didn't. Moussambani kept going.

"I never saw a crowd like that," he said after the race, "I was a little scared. There is no crowd like that in my country. After 50 metres, I wanted to quit. My arms were tired.

"But I couldn't stop. The crowd. Thanks to the crowd, I had the strength to finish. The crowd gave me power."

Moussambani is a true individual, a man for whom the race was its own reward. The crowd appreciated that fact and after he was finished, exploded into applause usually referred for the gold medal wins of their home town heroes.

Moussambani was the reason to watch the Olympics.

web posted September 18, 2000

At least there is one Republican out there who hasn't forgotten that you're actually supposed to try during an election.

Rick Lazio and Hillary ClintonAs we said in our Tidbits section, Rick Lazio literally took Hillary Clinton behind the proverbial woodshed and spanked her mightily during their debate on September 13. Easily fending off attacks by Clinton that tried to link him to Newt Gingrich, Lazio repeatedly slammed her for refusing to pledge that she won't use soft money, the fact that she is nothing but a carpetbagger and has no record when it comes to New York, and her plans for health care.

"Because of his tour de force performance, I think any objective commentator would have to say that Rick Lazio clearly beat Hillary Clinton in this first debate. And what a turnaround for Lazio. Prior to this debate, it seemed as if Hillary was inching her way to a safe victory in the Fall. Now that doesn't seem so clear," wrote Nicholas Sanchez.

One debate won't win the election for Lazio and to be truthful he probably won't win even if he wins every debate. New York votes Democrat with the same regularity that the sun rises each morning. Regardless of that, Lazio hasn't forgotten that elections have to be fought to be won.

web posted August 28, 2000

Living in Canada, I take it as a given that doctors love government-run health care. In this country, the debate over health care generally doesn't revolve around the axis of pro- or con- government run health care, but rather status quo or even more of the same.

Thank God for the United States where groups like the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons openly call for private health care and for doctors to withdraw from the Medicare system.

"Medicare endangers seniors, rations care and punishes the best doctors whose only aim is to give the best care. For the sake of patients and integrity of the profession, doctors should get out of Medicare," read an August 24 press release from the group.

"An AAPS survey of doctors reveals that Medicare rules and government threats to prosecute doctors make it more difficult for seniors to receive appropriate, necessary and timely medical care because doctors are afraid to treat tricky cases or take on new patients. Doctors spend less time practicing medicine and more complying with incomprehensible government regulations -- more than 110,000 pages."

As Medicare begins its 36th year of existence, thousands of doctors have withdrawn from the system. Illegal to provide medical services for free (think about that one), one doctor accepted a model ship as payment for back surgery while another performed brain surgery for $1, preferring to practice medicine over Medicare.

We may not have these groups in Canada, but we can solace in the fact that the good fight is being fought somewhere, something that can inspire us until our doctors too decide that freedom is better than slavery.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!

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